I keep forgetting about the time difference; I lost an hour when I got to Kentucky. So I slept in later than I had anticipated. Linh had to work today, but Darin was up and had made me some breakfast. We had the second of what will probably be many chats about mixed martial arts, the academies I’m likely to visit, the theory and philosophy behind BJJ, etc. This time around it was about how MMA is written off as violent and the province of dumb jocks. We talked about how untrue that is, how intelligent you have to be to understand the entire landscape of the grappling arts, not to mention to contribute to them yourself, and Darin decided that Dean Lister, a top flight black belt, would make a good commentator because he is articulate and intelligent enough to win over civilians, and has the competition experience to make him acceptable to practitioners.
Talking to Darin is getting me so excited about the rest of the trip and made me eager to see his academy. And while Linh doesn’t train BJJ, she boxes and teaches boxing at the academy, and The Submit Pit is most definitely a family affair. It’s terrific to see; they are such a great team in so many ways. Before we went to the academy, Darin drove me around Somerset to show me some of the sights. We went to Burnside Island State Park, which is on the shore of Lake Cumberland, and was packed today, since it’s the day before July 4th. We also heard a bunch of fireworks going off here and there, and I’m guessing they were not legal ones. Reminds me of my childhood!
After class tonight, I am now the proud owner of two Submit Pit t-shirts, including one that has “Bluegrass Breed” stenciled on the back, and an SP bumper sticker, which immediately went on my car.
Darin and I also had interesting grappling conversation #104, this time about how it’s important to make sure sport BJJ remains true to its self-defense roots.
We got to the school around 4 and started cleaning. We were soon joined by Chad, one of Darin’s most eager students—and after sparring with him, I can say he has a lot of promise. We cleaned up the academy a bit: dusting, vacuuming, sending Chad outside in the 90 degree heat to do the windows while Darin and I sat on the couch in the air conditioned academy reading MMA magazines.
Darin’s sister-in-law Amanda (married to Luke, with whom we watched PRIDE last night) showed up soon after with her cute 4-year-old daughter, who treated us to a gymnastics demonstration of backflips, cartwheels, and roundoffs, all with funny running commentary about how Chad is a dork (she’s got a little girl crush on him, I think). Her brother Josh came too. He and Amanda are also dedicated students, and will go far with a teacher like Darin. There was open mat class before the kids’ class, and then after that was the adult class.
Amanda seemed to be happy to spar with me; for me, it’s always a treat to get to spar with another woman since they are so few and far between. I’m going to get her connected to the jiu jitsu forum I post on, especially the women’s forum, so she can get a sense of community. She’s planning to compete in a tournament in October, which is really terrific. I’ll be training again on Wednesday with them, so I’ll work with her as much as possible.
So the short of it is that Darin is a great teacher. He always was when we were training together in Chicago, but as with his actual sparring, his teaching has reached a new level since his trip last year. He does a great job of, as he describes it, breaking down techniques into their simplest elements for the kids’ classes, and I can’t help but think that would be a good strategy for beginners, too. I definitely wrote notes on the two take downs he showed the kids, because I can do those takedowns too!
And in the adult class, he showed rubber guard to omoplata, as well as a takedown sequence, again, breaking things down into manageable chunks. It’s obvious that his students love him; some of them call him Coach, and he and Linh said that they have seen a lot of positive changes among them both in terms of their skill and in terms of their confidence. Such a great thing! I, of course, learned a crapload and had fun with the technique, the situational sparring, and the open mat. Darin very wisely starts all the sparring on the feet, which I need loads of help with.
Oh, and by the way, lest he get a big head or something, it’s worth noting that Darin, who, as I mentioned in an earlier post, has accused me of being a “fucking blueblood” because of my name, has TATTOOED HIS FAMILY CREST ON HIS ARM. If that’s not bluebloody, I don’t know what is. Especially because the Durham crest is far more classy looking than the Worthington one. The Worthington family crest, much to the chagrin of my late grandmother, is three dung forks on a field of silver. But look at this!
Linh’s student, Carey, very kindly gave me a packet of brochures and magazines about Kentucky. This woman has never met me before and yet she took time to do that. This is what I mean about the support I feel from people. There are good people in the world, and I’m meeting a lot of them! Carey and her husband have invited us to go out on their boat tomorrow to celebrate Independence Day. Didn’t have to twist my arm!
Life on the road is good. And it’s only just begun. I’m happy and grateful.